News Stories

ETC at NAB – Adaptive Production and AI

Adaptive Production and AI were front and center for The Entertainment Technology Center@USC at this year’s NAB Show on April 10th.  Under the NXT Tech Symposium, 3 sessions programmed by our Adaptive Production director, Seth Levenson, discussed current state, findings, and perspectives.

Preservation in the Cloud
9:00 AM – 10:20 AM

The cloud allows for revolutionary gains in speed, flexibility, and collaboration, but the supposed benefit of “weightless” and “floating” data poses a challenge of preservation. When the infrastructure is no longer under your control, how can you be certain that what you sent to the cloud is what you’ll get back later? This session discussed opportunities and challenges from both a content owner and cloud service provider perspective.

  • Andrea Kalas, SVP, Archiving, Paramount Pictures
  • Denis Leconte, VP, Technology, Iron Mountain Entertainment Services
  • Seth Levenson, Director, Adaptive Production, ETC@USC
  • Adam Skewgar, Principal Program Manager, Microsoft Azure

Production in the Cloud
10:40 AM – 12:00 PM

Production in the cloud is still in its infancy, yet new capabilities are constantly evolving out of this technology all the time. New tools and features are just part of our future in production. We have begun to re-examine how we view this process at a fundamental level. This session discussed game-changing tools and new paradigms surrounding production in the cloud.

  • Bob Eicholz, CTO, Technicolor
  • Kevin Kim, Principal Product Manager, Emerging Services, Equinix
  • Adrian Graham, Cloud Solutions Architect, Google
  • Jim Donovan, SVP, Product, Wasabi Technologies, Inc.
  • Erik Weaver, Global Director, M&E Market Development, Western Digital

Quantum Computing
1:30 PM – 2:50 PM

Quantum computing is going to change the landscape of Media & Entertainment. Aside from better AI and faster rendering, it’s also going to replace all the key based security that M&E (and most industries) have relied on to protect our content and systems. This session provided a primer on quantum computing as well as insights on where we are, where we’re going, and how its application will impact the industry.

  • Yves Bergquist, AI Researcher/Director, AI & Neuroscience in Media, ETC@USC
  • Seth Levenson, Director, Adaptive Production, ETC@USC
  • Bibek Pokharel, Director, Quantum Information, USC Viterbi School of Engineering
  • Jeff Welser, VP & Lab Director, Research, IBM

Click here for more information.

USC Students Speak on the Future of Entertainment

The ETC welcomed a panel of eight students from several USC schools to give their own insights on the trajectory of interactive media at the March 7, 2019 Executive Board Meeting.

The hour-long forum that covered topics from social media habits to storytelling strategy was condensed into a seven-minute highlight reel on our YouTube channel below. The ETC is producing these student panels on a quarterly basis this year — twice at our Executive Board Meetings and twice at our All Members Meetings. We highly encourage our member companies to attend and join the conversation at these upcoming sessions.


  • Andrew Baker, Computer Science
  • Jenny Xu, International Relations, Business Law, Cinema
  • Jessica Ho, Communications, Computer Science
  • Miho Maeda, Business Administration, Cinema
  • Natalie Monger, Dance, Computer Science, Business Administration
  • Natalie Warren, Aerospace Engineering
  • Nikita Shankar Law
  • Nikolas Nguyen, Physics, Archaeology, Computer Science, Animation

Data & Analytics Project

The Storytelling Cipher: Mapping Precise Story and Character Mechanics to Box Office Returns

Our Data & Analytics Project held “The Storytelling Cipher: Mapping Stories & Characters to Box Office Revenue” Tuesday, December 6, 2016 at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

This study leverages the Dramatic taxonomy of film narrative to infer which scene-level character and story attributes generate more box office returns, by genre. We are extending this study to ads and movie trailers.

The project researchers used machine learning to map 70+ story attributes for 300 films to their box office returns to extract which story mechanics or character features in film generated the most revenue. This was the first time granular story and character mechanics have been used to predict box office returns, which opens up many avenues to make more data-driven creative and development decisions throughout the industry.

What’s a good story? The question has been hanging without a scientific answer since the dawn of man. It seems that a story’s lack of clear mathematical structure and universal taxonomy would relegate such classification of stories to the qualitative – and highly subjective- empire of critics and … people.

Until now.

The event presented results from the research, discussed applications for the development and creative process, and outlined next steps.

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